The historic meeting between Boris Johnson and Joe Biden at the White House last night was captured in full by the cameras – but the more important exchange of views was said without words, explains body language expert Judi James
Last night saw Boris Johnson meet the US president Joe Biden in the White House as his hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal with the States crumble.
The so-called special relationship was looking more like a bunch of wilting petrol station carnations than the dazzling friendship of earlier years – remember Theresa May holding Trump’s hand down that ramp?
Here, body language expert Judi James drills down into the secrets behind their hand gestures and facial expressions – and reveals what two of the most powerful men in the world were really saying…
With their masks turning most of their words into mumbles it really was all about the body language of these two men last night.
Their poses as they sat side by side accentuated their personality differences. Boris sat squarely in his chair, legs splayed and a hand resting on each thigh in what might have passed for a power pose… apart from the fact he kept re-straightening his tie in a way that suggested some nerves.
Biden’s tie lay completely askew and uncorrected and his legs were folded away from the PM in what could have been seen as a gesture of rejection. The PM was Churchillian but Biden looked more elegant, reading from the notes resting on his lap as Boris gazed about, distracted, or scribbled at his own notes.
After yards of mumbling though there were signs of what Boris was describing as a ‘genuinely terrific’ relationship.
Biden raised one fist and shook it in the air to illustrate the strength of their relationship before lightening up and becoming unexpectedly jovial, cracking jokes and using animated gesticulation.
He crossed his fingers at one comment from Boris and rounded his eyes in surprise at another, although a subtler clenching and unclenching of his right fist as it lay on the arm of the chair could have suggested suppressed impatience.
By the end the two leaders were depicting a reasonable double act with their body language choreography, both pointing together to the press and each one mirroring the other.
If Biden was missing the industrial-strength sucking up he was treated to from Macron at the G7 he didn’t show it, looking more at ease and on top of his game in the company of the PM.